9 Must-Know Tips to Study Effectively in the Holidays and Stay Motivated

We know it's hard to study in the holidays when everyone around you is out and about. So, here's 9 great tips to help you effectively study in the Holidays and get ahead in school.

Written by:
Matrix English Team

We know it’s hard to effectively study in the holidays.

Your friends are out at the beach or the movies, and you’re stuck at home with your nose in your textbook. Soon after, you’re getting FOMO, so you give in and ditch your studies for the pool.

This is a common problem all students run into during the holidays. However, what if we told you that there is a way to have the best of both worlds?

Continue reading the article to find out!



Why study during the holidays?

It’s crucial that you are using your holidays to get ahead of your studies.

Your brain is a muscle. Like all muscles, it loses strength when you stop using it.

So, it’s crucial that you continue exercising your brain during the holidays so that it can run at full capacity when school starts again.

Furthermore, the holidays are a great time to catch-up and get ahead. You have 2-6 weeks to fill in missing gaps of knowledge, and prepare yourself for the next term.

This will reduce your stress levels during your term because you won’t be frantically trying to learn new content and complete your assessments.



9 tips to effectively study in the holidays and stay motivated:

There are 3 things you should do every school holidays:

  1. Revise your term’s content
  2. Study ahead for the next term
  3. Relax!

So, here are 9 tips to help you do just that:

  1. Create a study plan with reasonable goals
  2. Study in small chunks
  3. Catch up on notes
  4. Revise what you learned in the previous term
  5. Get ahead for next term
  6. Study with a friend
  7. Focus on long term goals
  8. Prioritise studying over events 
  9. Relax! (1 or 2 chill days a week)



1. Create a study plan with reasonable goals

We’re humans. So, of course, it’s hard to stay motivated every day.

That’s why it’s crucial that you create a study plan to help you get into a study rhythm, instead of solely focusing on motivation.

This will prevent you from watching Netflix for 3 whole days because ‘you didn’t feel like studying’.

So, how do you create an effective study plan for the holidays:


1. Jot down dates for outings and events

You don’t want to allocate Week 1 Wednesday to revise your English notes only to find out that there’s a family bbq on the same day.

Too often, students lose motivation to study in the holidays because they’re falling behind on their study goals.

So, to prevent this, you should always…

Jot down dates of any known outings and work your study time plan around them.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should book 5/7 days for outings and study on the remaining two days.

Instead, you should aim to limit your outings to a maximum of 1-2 days a week. Even then, you can still slot in a quick 30-60 minute study session before or after your outing.


2. Create reasonable goals for every day

You don’t want to lose motivation on the first day of the holidays when you realise that you can’t memorise a whole Science module in a day.

It is much more rewarding if you break down this big goal into smaller achievable goals,

For example, you need to set specific goals like “Revise Darwin’s Theory of Evolution on Monday” and “Go through challenging Motion questions”.

These goals much more specific and achievable, which helps you stay motivated to study for longer.


3. Don’t create strict time-slots, instead use deadlines

It is easiest to stray away from your plans during the Holidays because there are so many distractions.

This is why you shouldn’t create a strict timetable that outlines your goals for every time slot, like this:

This Holiday Schedule is too intense and too strict.


If there is an unexpected event, your plans will fall apart, and you will lose motivation to study.


Instead, you should set out goals to complete during the day

As Alan shares in his article (How I Overcame Procrastination in 8 Steps to Ace Year 12)…

“The best way to complete a task is to simply set a deadline for it. Nothing Else”

So, your Holiday Study Timetable should look more like this:

This is a good holiday study schedule

This Holiday schedule clearly identifies specific tasks you need to complete in a day, AND it gives leeway for unexpected events!

If you want to learn more about how to study based on your attention span and flow state, as opposed to strict time management, take a read of Matrix student, Alan’s How I Overcame Procrastination in 8 Steps to Ace Year 12 article. 



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2. Study in small chunks

Remember, your school holidays are there to give you a break from school. So, you shouldn’t be studying for 9-11 hours a day.

Instead, aim to spend an average of 2-6 hours studying a day (depending on your grade).

If you are in your junior years, 2-4 hours is appropriate. If you are in your senior years, you should aim for 3-6 hours a day.

However, some days, you’ll find yourself studying for 1 hour, and other days you’ll spend 6 hours studying to make up for unexpected events.

That is all part of the process! What’s more important is that you don’t overwork yourself.

So, a sure way to ensure that you are giving yourself enough time to rest and relax is to study in small chunks.


1. Study in shorter sessions

The pomodoro method is where you take a 3-5 minute break every 20-25 minutes of studying, and a long (15-30 minute) break after 4 pomodoro sessions.

The flow states method is where you “get into the zone” and smash out your studies. Often, you don’t notice the time when you are in this state because you’re so concentrated on your task.

However, despite using the pomodoro method or flow states method, you should always give yourself a good break from studying…. especially during the holidays.

Consciously break up and shorten your study sessions to ensure that you are giving yourself enough time to recharge your brain from school.


2. Study first thing in the day

We know. It’s tempting to procrastinate during the day and leave your study until nighttime… because you’re a “night owl”.

However, this is a bad idea because you can disrupt your sleeping schedule or even leave work unfinished.

Furthermore, not only is it a bad habit to build, but it also causes students to lose motivation to study when their Holiday plans go awry.

As such, just get your studies done early, so you can get it out of the way and relax for the rest of the day.




3. Catch up on notes

The holidays are the perfect chance to fill in your missing notes from Week 4 because you don’t have have to worry about any new content and assessments coming your way.

So, how do you do this?


1. Go through your syllabus

Your syllabus is your study bible! It lists everything you need to know for your subjects in something called ‘dot points’.

Here is an example of NESA’s Stage 4 Maths Syllabus for Probability 2:



As you can see, each dot point specifies the exact skills and knowledge you need to know. So, if you need to double-check what’s missing from your notes, just take a look at the syllabus and compare it with your notes.


2. Set your priorities

The holidays do not mean that you have all the time in the world to do everything you want to do. After 2 or 6 weeks, you will be back in school, and just like that, your holidays are over.

So, it’s important that you are setting out your priorities for the Holidays.

You should prioritise filling in notes for your least confident topics of all your subjects first.

To do this, you should:

  1. Gather a list of dot points that you are missing from your notes
  2. Rate each dot-point out of 5 based on your confidence level (1 = very unsure, 5 = very confident)
  3. Now, work from your least confident dot points across all your subjects first (This would be 1-2/5)
  4. Then work through your average – high dot points across all your subjects (3-5/5).

By working on your weak dot-points first, you ensure that you have notes for your all unconfident dot-points… especially because you might not be able to get through all your missing notes during the holidays.




4. Revise what you learned in the previous term

The key to memorising and understanding content is consistent spaced repetition. This can come in the form of:

  • Reviewing and annotating notes
  • Completing quizzes and past papers
  • Teaching others
  • Targetting weaknesses


1. Review and annotate notes

A common way to revise your previous term’s content is to go over your notes again!

This will help you refresh your memory about what you learned during the term and ensure that you aren’t missing any crucial pieces of knowledge.

However, it is crucial that you are not simply re-reading your notes as this is ineffective!

Instead, you need to:

  • Look, cover, check: Read your notes. Cover it up. And attemp to recall it.
  • Connect content with existing knowledge: Doing this helps you extend your understanding of your content because you are able to figure similarities and differences between two different concepts.
  • Annotate and add more notes: As you go through your notes, add annotations for any new findings. This includes mnemonics, connections with other concepts or additional research.


2. Complete quizzes and past papers

It is crucial that you are consistently testing your knowledge. This will help you identify what you know and don’t know about the topic.

It also helps you put your knowledge into practical use because you are challenged to communicate your understanding.

So, attempt to complete a variety of quizzes and past papers by:

  • Searching online for past papers
  • Asking your teachers for past papers or quizzes
  • Collating a bank of questions with your friends and completing them individually

Remember, you don’t have to always complete a full past paper. You can always write dot points for answers, or skip over your confident questions to save time.


3. Teach others

As the American physicist, J Robert Oppenheimer, said, “The best way to learn is to teach!”

Teaching helps you better understand and memorise what you’ve learned

This is because you need to develop a deep understanding of the concept and be able to communicate it clearly for another person to understand.

In simple terms, when you are teaching another person, you break down the information into manageable chunks in your head. This also helps you better retain the information.

So, gather some friends and family members and teach them about something you’ve learned. If there is no one, then you can always teach out loud to a group of plushies or to yourself!


4. Target weaknesses

After every term, you will for sure have some weaknesses in every subject.

The holidays is a perfect opportunity to brush up on these not-so-confident topics and make them into confident topics.

To do this, you should:

  • Ask for help from your teachers, Matrix teachers and tutors, or friends
  • Do additional research
  • Attempt more practice and past exam papers

If you want to see how a Matrix student turned her marks around by targetting her weaknesses, take a read of Cecilia’s Hacks: Ace HSC Chemistry By Targetting Your Weak Spots.




5. Get ahead for the next term

Don’t stop studying once you finished revising your previous term’s content. Continue to get ahead by preparing yourself for next term’s content.


1. Familiarise yourself with the syllabus

Remember, the syllabus contains everything you will be taught in the year. Teachers can’t stray from this!

So, if you want to know what you’ll be learning next term, take a look through your syllabus.

Remember, when you read through the syllabus, you should:

These two different elements of the syllabus will help you know exactly what is expected of you in the next term.


2. Preview textbooks chapters/prescribed text

Once you know which topics you are doing for next term, you should briefly go through the textbook or your prescribed text.

Your teachers should have given you a textbook at the beginning of the year for your subjects. However, if they didn’t, you can always visit the library and borrow it!

Remember, it is okay if you don’t understand everything in your textbook.

Your aim these holidays is to gain a basic understanding of the topic before the term, so you have more time to revise and extend your knowledge during the term!

So, to do this, you should:

  • Read and attempt to break down the information in the textbook
  • Skip over challenging ideas if it’s taking too long
  • Link the content to existing knowledge
  • Make preliminary notes


8. Study with a friend

Remove the temptation to hang out with your friends by having study meet-ups with them!

This way, you guys can learn together and have someone to keep you accountable.

However, it is very important that you are studying with people who won’t distract you.

If you find yourselves procrastinating more when you are working with certain people, then don’t invite them to your study sessions. It will defeat the purpose of having a study session!

So, what should you do during a study session?


1. Set your goals for the study session and tell your friends

Before every study session, you should always set out what you want to complete during the session.

Now share your goals with your friends to keep each other accountable.

This will ensure that you guys won’t get sidetracked and will complete an appropriate amount of work during the study session.


2. Learn together

Take advantage of your friend(s) and learn together! You can always:

  1. Break down the content together
  2. Teach each other different concepts
  3. Test each other
  4. Ask each other for help!


3. Reward yourselves

After each session, you guys can reward yourselves with dinner or a bowling night. This will make your studying sessions much more enjoyable and rewarding.




7. Focus on long term goals

Yes, sometimes it gets a little demotivating when you have to study during the holidays,

However, being able to reach your long term goal is much more satisfying than going to the pools.

As such, it is important that you clearly identify your long term goal and continually remind yourself of them during the holidays.

So, how do you do this?


1. Identify what you want to achieve

This can be achieving a 90+ ATAR, coming top 3 in your grade for Science, or increasing your next assessment marks by 5.

It is important that you have a long term goal, because it gives you direction.

If you aren’t working towards anything, you will lose focus and never improve.

So, remember, you should create a goal that is simultaneously achievable and challenging.

You don’t want to give up on your goal because you feel like you can never achieve it. But also, you don’t want to create a goal that is too easy for you because it won’t be rewarding.

After you’ve done this, set a deadline for this goal. Do you want to achieve this next term, by the end of the year, or in the next 2 years?


2. Write it on post-it notes around the house

This will serve as a reminder for you to stay focused during the holidays.

It should motivate you to get up and study!

You can see it the moment you wake up, when you go to the bathroom, in the kitchen… everywhere!


3. Now, create smaller, more achievable goals

You can’t achieve your long term by simply cruising through the holidays and studying whenever and whatever you feel like.

Instead, you need to set out actionable steps that will help you get close to your goal.

Write down exactly what you want to study during the day that will help you achieve your long term goal.




8. Prioritise studying over events

We know. It’s tempting to say ‘yes’ to outings, but you need to prioritise studying over events.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with your friends at all. That’s crazy!

Instead, prioritising studying means that you are more focused on completing your set tasks during the week, as opposed to going to the park or the movies.

So, how do you prioritise studying over events?


1. Finish your daily tasks early

You can visit your friends or play Among Us all night… as long as you finish your daily tasks first.

The easiest way to do this is to complete your set tasks the moment you wake up.

Once it’s done, you are free to do whatever you want.

Think about it, you don’t want to procrastinate all day, only to receive an invite to play Among Us when you were just about to start studying. What are you going to do? Decline your friends or neglect your work?

Don’t put yourself in this situation.


2. Say no to events

Giving yourself a good 1 or 2 day break each week is a good idea. However, giving yourself a 4 day break out of 7 days is not.

Remember, you can’t say yes to every invitation.

It is okay to say no.

Select the events that you really want to go to, and decline the rest. Your friends and family will understand.




9. Relax! Give yourself 1 or 2 rest days a week

Despite hammering you with tips to stay motivated to study throughout the holidays, we want you to take a break too!

It’s especially important that you are giving yourself plenty of rest during the holidays to refresh your brain.

It is the holidays after all. You don’t want to burn out!

So, give yourself 1-2 days a week where you aren’t staring at your laptops or your textbook.

Attempt to do more energising activities like a hike or ice skating, instead of high-concentration activities like playing League of Legends for 12 hours straight.

We want you to feel rejuvenated, not more tired!




Written by Matrix English Team

The Matrix English Team are tutors and teachers with a passion for English and a dedication to seeing Matrix Students achieving their academic goals.

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2023. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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